“If you can’t convince the top, then you can’t be led”

gorillaPretty strong, but true words by Jeff Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak, now turned marketing guru. He was referring to the fact CMOs need to be at the forefront of their business all the time. They need to be quick and agile, strong change agents within their organization.  In today’s fast-paced times, being satisfied with business as usual is not an option. An organization is only as strong its slowest common denominator and as Hayzlett says “… if the slowest is at the head of your organization, then you have lost before you began.”

There is an indisputable need for top management to embrace the power of digital. And it is the task of the CMO to understand digital as part of his or her marketing organization. Digital has changed marketing by offering us data that allows us to better understand what our customers are expecting, how they want to engage with us and what they definitely do not want to see. Therefore, CMOs must be change agents within their business, constantly making the case for change to the higher up organization whether this is regarding digital or new business opportunities.   Content, mobile and social media are fueling change in our industry. We are moving from a one sided conversation to engagement. All of this means embracing change and adapting to new environments.

And digital will be changing even more of our work environment. In a new report, Forrester analyst Anthony Mullen shows how new emerging technologies will make almost everything digital in the near future from wearables to smart objects. This will mean another shift not only in marketing practices but also marketing skills. It will mean spending more time on innovation such as gaming or interaction models. It will also mean formalizing “working relationships with adjacent practices such as customer experience, analytics, IT, and product design”.

Which brings us back to one of Hayzlett’s core messages “adapt, change or die”. As marketers and CMOs we must be willing to continuously adapt and change in order to meet the future, to spread the spirit of change to our executives and to ensure growth for our organization.

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